Power struggle – Oddo to Brown: Tone it down
Soft-spoken Oddo gives Brown 4-point ultimatum to avoid removal: # 1. Stop writing letters and blogging
Fayette County Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Oddo, who is challenging fellow commissioner Steve Brown for the chairman’s seat Thursday night, has indicated in a December email that Brown has been too controversial in making public statements regarding the county.
In an email to Brown Dec. 1, Oddo listed a number of changes he said had to happen to insure Oddo’s support of Brown as chairman and to keep Oddo from running for the top post himself. Among those changes are for Brown to stop submitting editorials to the newspaper and posting blogs.
Oddo also asked Brown to “consult with your fellow commissioners before taking public positions or making public comments on policy, staff, or any other considerations that pertain to the county.” Oddo said he also wanted Brown to “stop publicly referring negatively to individuals, whether or not by name and whether or not related to the county.”
“That, also, is unbecoming of the chairman and his position, and reflects badly on the entire board,” Oddo wrote.
Brown said Monday that he “would not comply with that kind of blackmail.”
“I cannot imagine anyone behind this kind of extortion being our representative in the regional government,” Brown said, referring to the chairman of the commission serving as the county’s representative on the Atlanta Regional Commission. “We would give into every liberal demand they would come up with.”
In the email, Oddo urges Brown to “become a team leader,” saying he had wrestled with the idea of whether or not to draw a line on the matter.
“You are capable of being chairman, but you have a different approach that I don’t feel is always appropriate,” Oddo wrote. “It’s not so much what you say as how you say it, and not so much what you do as how you do it.”
Oddo explains that in his view, the county “needs a chairman who is strong, but who also avoids controversy.”
“The county needs a chairman to be extra cautious of the ramifications of his statements and actions,” Oddo wrote. “Neither of these conditions rise to the level of requisite on your chair-meter. ... Bear in mind, an inescapable duty of the chairman is to represent the board of commissioners and Fayette County as its figurehead. Everything you do or say reflects on the commissioners or the county. We need positive representation at all times.”
Brown in a Monday email said Oddo’s demands boil down to “you doing what we tell you to do and thinking how we want you to think.”
“The terms are pretty clear: 1. No freedom of speech unless I allow them to censor it first; 2. I cannot have a position on anything unless I clear it through them and they approve it; 3. I can only behave and think the way they do also known as ‘team’; 4. By stop publicly referring negatively to individuals’ he means I am not allowed to support a candidate and call someone for telling blatant campaign lies (Ironically, this was acceptable when I was supporting the candidacy of commissioners Oddo and Barlow).
Oddo said if Brown would not commit to the changes, he would no longer support Brown as chairman but would support him as a fellow commissioner.
“My goal is to have a board of commissioners, led by a chairman, that work together on the same page,” Oddo wrote.
Oddo’s letter to Brown is reproduced in its entirety below:
From: Charles Oddo
Sent: Sun 12/1/2013 7:49 PM
To: Steve Brown
Subject: Follow up to 11/25/13 meeting
Good Evening Steve,
I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns when we met this past Monday, 11/25, as well as the previous discussions we’ve had about the same subject. I also want to thank you for doing the job you’ve done over the past year. I don’t take lightly the tremendous effort you’ve put forth.
Truthfully, I’d rather not be in the position that I now find myself. You and I have had some discussions over the months and have agreed to disagree as you put it. I know you understand my feelings, and trust you also understand my opinions don’t deter from the appreciation I have for you and the work you’ve done.
Steve, I have to balance my decisions against what is in the best interests of the County. The County needs a Chairman who is strong, but who also avoids controversy. The County needs a Chairman to be extra cautious of the ramifications of his statements and actions. Neither of these conditions rise to the level of requisite on your Chair-meter.
I’ve wrestled with whether or not to draw a line, and I’ve waited, hoping for change, but I believe by writing your letter to our nominee for the Development Authority, the time has come. You are capable of being Chairman, but you have a different approach that I don’t feel is always appropriate.
IT’S NOT SO MUCH WHAT YOU SAY AS HOW YOU SAY IT, AND NOT SO MUCH WHAT YOU DO AS HOW YOU DO IT.
You asked me to put in writing my concerns and what I would like to see change. Bear in mind, an inescapable duty of the chairman is to represent the Board of Commissioners and Fayette County as its figurehead. Everything you do or say reflects on the Commissioners and the County. We need positive representation at all times. So, with that in mind,
In order to receive my continued support, I must see the following critical changes:
1) Discontinue blogging and editorializing. There may be times editorials could be appropriate, but not without the professional courtesy of advising your fellow Board members and considering the objections they may have. It is unbecoming to see the Chairman in verbal fisticuffs with citizens and it is detrimental to our success as a Board.
2) Consult with your fellow commissioners before taking public positions or making public comments on policy, staff, or any other considerations that pertain to the County.
3) Become a team leader. Communication and teamwork are not part-time. You have not been entirely willing to commit yourself to teamwork in your role as chairman, and that must change.
4) Stop publicly referring negatively to individuals, whether or not by name and whether or not related to the county. That, also, is unbecoming of the chairman and his position, and reflects badly on the entire Board.
Steve, you must commit to these changes now. If you cannot, I’ll accept your decision and I will continue to support you as Commissioner, but I will not continue to support you as Chairman.
Considering you have already expressed such changes would be difficult at best, I believe it is appropriate that the other Commissioners have an option for Chairman, and I will offer myself as that option if they so choose.
The other Commissioners are not yet aware of my position. It’s only proper I share my thoughts with you first. But, I do plan on sharing a copy of this email with each Commissioner before I leave town Wednesday.
My goal is to have a Board of Commissioners, led by a Chairman, that work together on the same page.
My desire is that Steve Brown makes a decision in the best interests of the County.
Regardless of my feelings on the Chairmanship, I have appreciated your friendship over the months and expect our friendship to continue.
Charles W. Oddo
Fayette County Commissioner, Post 1
140 Stonewall Avenue West - Suite 100
Fayetteville, GA 30214